The project “hemp for elephants” will involve giving two stressed African elephants medical CBD to help them relax and stop fighting within the herd, according to the zoo’s website.
“To start with, the programme included Fredzia the elephant who, after the recent death of Erna, was a bit stressed and has a little trouble finding her position in the herd,” the website reads.
“Fryderyk will receive CBD oil with food, but also as recommended, we will try to administer it directly into the mouth (it is more effectively absorbed through the mucosa).”
The hemp trial was put forward after the head of the herd died, leaving the remaining elephants struggling to cope.
Warsaw Zoo zookeeper Patryk Pyciński explained in a video posted on Facebook that elephants can struggle with the loss of a herd member “for weeks, sometimes for years”.
This has been the case with Fredzia, who has now adopted a “tough trunk” mentality in an attempt to assert dominance in the herd, CNN reports.
Warsaw Zoo veterinarian Agnieszka Czujkowska, who is leading the project, said CBD had already been used on dogs and horses and that they hoped it might work on elephants as an alternative to medication.
“Like most zoos we do research [and] we monitor the level of stress hormones. Thanks to this we will know if the substances [will] help the elephants,” Czujkowska told CNN.
The results could take months, she added.